Optimism or Hope?
I think a long-term commitment to love and justice (not to mention sanity) hangs in the balance between which one we choose – optimism or hope.
My understanding of optimism is that it’s a cheery, chipper feeling that comes from inside of us. When things go bad (and stay bad) the feeling of optimism can quickly diminish into apathy and ultimately a despairing pessimism. It is somewhere along this journey from optimism to apathy to pessimism that we feel the urge to turn away from reality and recoil with cute cat videos.
Hope, on the other hand, has the capacity to unflinchingly face reality because of belief in core principles beyond oneself. Optimism grows weary in times of struggle. Hope remains steady, persistent, vigilant.
For the Christian, hope may be a belief that the God of history prevails. But people of many faiths (or no faith) can come together to hope based on a belief in “core democratic principles” or a declaration that “love wins” or in the understanding that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice,” as Dr. King said.
I may have written this brief post because I need to be reminded what hope means for the long haul, and if you are feeling weary, I get it. There is no reason to be optimistic.
So I urge you to be hopeful, because hope never bends to the forces of hate as it pursues the ideal of love.
Hope does not give in to apathy but stands relentless, on the shoulders of justice.
Hope does not fall into a darkness of despair because the beacon of hope cannot be extinguished.
Hope is what produces courage for the long haul.
In grace and peace,
Rev. Brent Barry is the lead pastor of NorthPark Presbyterian Church. Brent and NorthPark have a deep commitment to working with the poor and hungry in Dallas, helping those with Alzheimer’s disease, and reaching across religious and cultural lines to do their part to bring Dallas together as one.